Fotos from the past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.
City taxpayers may soon be on the hook for another large loan to pay for public works projects in 1979. Mayor Patrick Nugent hopes that a federal grant may reduce the estimated $1 million in borrowing by $350,000 if the feds come through with the estimated cost of the new water tower on the far west side. But Nugent said the city is having a difficult time paying off its past debts while trying to keep up with infrastructure needs for future needs. Nugent said part of the blame lies with the reimbursement formula where the city pays for the majority of the water and sewer projects around the city instead of the abutting property owners whom Nugent feels should shoulder more of the cost. Mayor Nugent advised because of levy limits the city cannot just raise the taxes of others to pay for the increased costs around the city which were impacted by a decrease in $2.8 million in property tax on manufactures stock, a decrease that will continue until that tax is completely removed in 1981. The city council hopes to brainstorm its way out of its cash flow crisis at a special council meeting next Tuesday.
In briefs: The Lions Club honored Ron Lass with the 100% Secretary’s Award. District Governor Carl Torkelson presented the award at the meeting of the Noon Lions. James Rammer has been elected president of the Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce for 1979. Rammer has been a member of the organization since 1975; he serves as the plant supervisor of the GTE telephone company. Other chamber officers include Charles Phelps of Semling-Menke, vice-president of economic development; Carol Pritzl of Pritzl Printing, VP of public affairs; Wayne Smith of WJMT radio, VP of membership; and Jerry Voigt of Merrill Federal Savings and Loan, VP of finance and operations. James Greenlee, president of the Weinbrenner Shoe Company, accepted an award from the American Legion this past week. His company was honored for their efforts to employ older workers, especially veterans. Of the company’s 812 employees, 398 are aged 40 or older. As yet another sign of the changing seasons, a picture on page 21 shows members of the Merrill Street Department hanging Christmas decorations downtown last week.
Bible Presbyterian Church in Merrill has installed a new pastor. The Rev. Robert Smallman is a graduate of Bob Jones University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Pastor Smallman taught for one year in the Diamond Lakes, IL public schools prior accepting a calling as pastor of the Church of the Good Shepard in Merrillville, IN. In 1975 Smallman returned to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for further graduate studies and is currently a candidate for Master of Theology degree in Pastoral Counseling and Psychology. While studying at Trinity he also worked as general foreman of the foam cup department at Solo Cup Company in Highland Park, IL. (I have a good feeling about this guy, hoping he sticks around for a few years)
Lincoln County has passed a $15.5 million budget for 1989 which comes with a 32 cent increase over last year’s tax levy. The board passed through with only one dissenting vote from Supervisor Alfred King and one concern brought by Supervisor Jim Theiler who did not agree with the county supervising and paying for a program for at risk youth in the Merrill School system. Theiler stated he wasn’t against the program itself, he just did not like the fact that it was a program just for Merrill area youth. Lincoln County Social Services Coordinator Curt Moe said the need for the program was based on a small group of people from the Merrill Junior High and he hopes to have the state picking up the tab for an expanded program by 1990. The board also increased the cost of an ambulance ride in a county ambulance by $10, which means you will now pay $100 for transport plus supplies and mileage. They also authorized a part time health nurse, approved an application for a Wisconsin Development Grant for a project in the Town of Bradley, rezoned an area in the Town of Merrill to commercial and rezoned a road across from the White Birch Trailer Court.
Russ Grefe has resigned as alderman of the 8th Ward in the City of Merrill. Grefe and his wife have purchased a home outside of the district forcing him to give up his post. Residents of the 8th ward who would be interesting in filling the post have until November 10th to apply with an appointment to be made by the Common Council. The appointee would be almost immediately up for election in April at the next citywide election, meaning they would have to take out papers on December 1 for the spring election. The council also approved free holiday parking in downtown Merrill which will last until January 3 and denied a request from Phil Kamke to rezone a portion of the 2000 block of East Main Street to allow him to expand his farm implement dealership.
A full page of pictures is in this week’s paper showcasing the Merrill Marching Jays who took to historic Lambeau Field this past Sunday to provide the halftime entertainment for the Green Bay Packers’ game against the Indianapolis Colts. Bill Dexter and Dale Smith took the pictures of the award winning marching band in front of the Packer faithful. The band is directed by Dale Smith and Dan Nordall. (I was on the field that day; the band sat on the visitors’ side and stayed on the sidelines for the whole game. I recall Ezra Johnson was playing for the Colts. Near the end of the game fans started throwing wrapped up hot dogs from the stands, which Ezra collected with a smile and went back into the locker room with.)
The Lincoln County Building Committee has narrowed the short list of potential locations for the new county jail and justice center to two spots. After meeting with the state jail inspector, it became apparent that using the current jail parking lot would cause a need to increase staffing in the jail, which would make the costs prohibitive. Mulder stated it isn’t that the county doesn’t want to build the new facility, it just doesn’t have the money to staff it based on the criteria for the current location. It is likely the building will be constructed on the ice rink by Pine Crest Nursing Home on 6th Street at Memorial Drive although the Lincoln School property still remains a viable option. Dieter Nickel made it quite clear to the board that property owned by Church Mutual Insurance Company is off the table; the CEO hand delivered a letter to Board Chairman Robert Sumnicht last week reiterating the company’s position that the jail should stay downtown and any property Church Mutual owns is not for sale.
The City of Merrill has issued a warning to scofflaws who have failed to pay fines: they are coming for you. City Attorney Jim Godlewski reports the non-payment rate for fines issued by the municipal court is at about 25% so he is implementing a program which will issue summons to those who have not paid fines which gives them a choice, show up and explain the delinquency or go to jail. So far the city has collected over $7,000 from debtors who came clean after getting summonsed before the court.
In his weekly column in the paper, writer Norman “Jigg’s” Heideman reports he recently renewed his driver’s license at the DMV. Jigg’s reported everything went well, the staff was more than helpful but he is not happy with the homely person’s photo they put on the new license. (His son Bill reports the same treatment at the DMV)